This is easier said than done but oh so important for new moms and parents! There are several reasons for the extreme fatigue following the birth of a baby. Women do not sleep well late in pregnancy and are further exhausted by the physical work of labor. Excitement and a lot of visitors add to the stress. The hospital environment can sometimes be so busy that women leave the hospital feeling very tired. Caring for a newborn and other young children is exhausting. Your body needs a chance to rest and recovery. New parents are often unprepared for the conflict between their need for sleep and the infant’s need for care and attention. The joys of parenting can easily become blurred by the exhaustion and frustration that results.
It is almost impossible to get a lot sleep with a newborn (especially for nursing moms) so limiting activities and spending lots of time on a couch or comfortable chair can help. While women also feel that they have to do it all, including entertaining guests who come to see the baby, naps, rest and sleep are very important to your well-being. It is important for you and your family that your sleep is a priority especially in the early weeks after giving birth. See “Modern Village” for ideas that can help.
Things to do that might help
- It is hard to do but for the first few weeks nap when the baby sleeps to recover your strength. Other things are important but almost nothing matters more to your well-being than sleep right now.
- If you’re having trouble sleeping, relaxation exercises or listening to music might be helpful in letting go of stress and resting your body.
- If you have the resources for neck or foot massages, now is the time to use them. Or ask your partner or friend to rub your back.
- Drink plenty of water to stay hydrated. Try to avoid caffeine and alcohol, which can disrupt your ability to sleep.
- Consider setting up a nighttime routine with your partner or support person where someone agrees to pay attention to the baby if he/she wakes up so for a block of time so that you can rest. If you are breastfeeding, going for more than 3 or 4 hours without draining your breasts can be uncomfortable, and can decrease how much milk you make. You can ask your support person to bring baby to you to nurse while you’re lying in bed, and then that adult can finish the rest of the needed baby care. Other moms find that it’s less stressful to wake up to express milk and go back to sleep. If you have friends or family who really want to help and who you trust, consider asking for sleep help.